Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Arianespace launches two Galileo GPS-type satellites

Capitalism in space: Using a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket, Arianespace successfully launched two Galileo GPS-type satellites from its spaceport in French Guiana tonight.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

45 China
27 SpaceX
20 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)

China still leads the U.S. 45 to 42 in the national rankings. This launch tonight was 116th successful launch in 2021, which is the most launches completed in a year since 1988. Based on the number of planned launched over the next three weeks, there is an outside chance that the global total will top 127, making this the second most active year ever in the history of space. Even if the numbers end up in the mid-120s, 2021 will be among the top eight years ever.

And I expect next year to easily top this year.

Another obvious hoax paper published by peer-review journal

Alan Sokal strikes again! Using fake names whose initials spell out SOKAL III, several anonymous scientists were successful in getting the peer-review journal Higher Education Quarterly to publish a completely fake paper, with numerous errors on every page, no data, absurd math, and whose authors gave themselves fake credentials.

Peer reviewers failed to perform basic due diligence on the paper submitted in April and approved in October, neglecting, for example, to verify that authors “Sage Owens” and “Kal Alvers-Lynde III” were UCLA professors as they claimed. Owens even used an encrypted email service for correspondence with the journal.

They didn’t check whether the conservative foundations named as active funders of higher education actually existed. The “Randy Eller Foundation” is made up, while the Olin Foundation shut down in 2005.

The author who goes by Owens told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the journal didn’t even ask to see their data: “Every page has some glaring errors.”

The paper was quickly retracted by the journal, but appears so fake that the entire editorial board of this journal should resign.

Alan Sokal by the way did this exact same thing in 1996, proving that most social and gender study journals were utter bunk. Not that his hoax accomplished much, as these brainless departments marched on until they have permeated all of academia with their nonsense, with Critical Race Theory now leading the way.

Read the whole article. Based on some comments by Owens, it is very possible that these hoaxers have gotten a slew of similar papers published, and are only waiting to pull the string.

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via Paypal or Patreon. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. Or you subscribe or donate using PayPal as follows:

 
 
 

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SpaceX begins construction of Starship launchpad in Florida

Capitalism in space: Elon Musk yesterday announced that SpaceX has begun the construction of a Starship launchpad at its facility at Cape Canaveral, though no launch scheduled was revealed.

Musk implied that the Starship orbital launchpad is being built at Launch complex 39A. If so, it will pose some scheduling issues for SpaceX, as the company also uses that site for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches. In fact, it is the only one it uses for Falcon Heavy.

NASA buys more Dragon manned flights

Capitalism in space: To give it some coverage because of continuing delays in Boeing’s Starliner manned capsule, NASA announced yesterday that it has awarded SpaceX contracts for three more manned Dragon manned flights to ISS.

NASA issued a contract notification announcing its plans to issue a sole-source award to SpaceX for three missions. Those missions would be in addition to the six “post-certification missions,” or PCMs, that SpaceX won as part of its $2.6 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract in 2014. The announcement did not state the price of those three new missions.

This is money that would have gone to Boeing, if it had gotten its act together and gotten Starliner flying on schedule. Instead, SpaceX is making the profits.

There has been no updates from Boeing since October on the valve issue that now stalls Starliner. While Boeing claims it is aiming for an unmanned demo flight to ISS in early ’22, this remains entirely speculative at this moment.

Leaving Earth cover

There are now only 6 copies left of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. After I sell one more, I will be raising the price substantially. Thus, if you want to get an autographed copy of this rare collector's item for only $100, plus $5 shipping, now is the time to buy. Once I sell one more book and only have five copies left, the price goes up to $150 (plus shipping for the next two.

 

To get your copy while the getting is good, please send a $105 check (which includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to
 

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

 

Leaving Earth is also available as an inexpensive ebook!

 

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 

If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big oppressive tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

BE-4 engine delayed until ’22

Capitalism in space: The CEO of ULA, Tory Bruno, admitted yesterday that the first production versions of Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine, required for his company’s new Vulcan rocket, will not be delivered until until early ’22.

Bruno had previously said he expected the engines in late 2021 but on Friday he confirmed the BE-4s will not arrive until early 2022. “I was hoping to get those engines for Christmas. I had giant stockings at home waiting for them,” Bruno quipped in the CNBC interview.

“I’ll say it’s taking them a little longer to fabricate my production engines. They’re in the factory now being built at Blue Origin,” said Bruno. “The COVID epidemic has affected them and their supply chain and it’s just taking a little bit longer, but they’re doing very, very well,” he added. “There’s been no problems with them and in fact, we’re doing the final testing, or what we call certification testing. And that is just going really, really well.”

It appears that Blue Origin is dealing with the difficulties of production, not design, at this point, the same kind of issue that SpaceX recently revealed with its Raptor engine. Blue Origin needs to be able to manufacture these engines at a somewhat high pace, as both ULA’s Vulcan and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket use it. It appears that in designing it Blue Origin didn’t think about the manufacturing until very late in the game.

Bruno also said that he plans on flying Vulcan twice in ’22. We shall see.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

Sunspot update: Sun continues to be more active than predicted

Time for our monthly sunspot update, using NOAA’s most recent monthly graph of sunspot activity. That graph is below, annotated to show the previous solar cycle predictions and thus provide context. It covers all activity through the month of November.

The pattern for the past two years since the end of the solar minimum continues, with sunspot activity consistently exceeding the prediction of NOAA’s panel of solar scientists, as indicated by the red curve. The activity in November dropped very slightly from October, but remained more active than the prediction.

» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: Professor fired for mistakenly confusing the names of two black students

Fordham: A Jesuit University where racism rules
Fordham: A Jesuit University where racism rules.

The new dark age of silencing: An English professor at Fordham University in New York, Christopher Trogan, was fired shortly after he made the unforgivable sin of accidently mixing up the names of two black students.

The name mix-up occurred on Sept. 24 in a Composition II class taught by Trogan. The two students whose names were mixed up sent Trogan an email after class expressing that they felt disheartened and disrespected, and believed the mistake occurred because they were both Black.

Later that day, Trogan sent an email addressing the situation to all of his students in both sections of his Composition II course. He referred to the name mix-up as an “innocent mistake” and said he had a “confused brain” because the two students arrived late while he was reading the work of another student at the lecturer podium. “The offended student assumed my mistake was because I confused that student with another Black student,” Trogan said in his email to students. “I have done my best to validate and reassure the offended student that I made a simple, human, error. It has nothing to do with race.”
» Read more

Weird storms on Jupiter

Storms on Jupiter
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, reduced to post here, was taken during Juno’s 38th close fly-by of Jupiter. It was enhanced and released yesterday by citizen scientist Kevin Gill to bring out the storm details, both of the large white storm at the bottom of the photo and the oblong eddy in the center.

Note the white puffy clouds sticking up from both larger cyclones. These tiny thunderheads are probably about the size of a very large Earth storm, but I am guessing. I don’t know the scale, but I suspect the Earth would fit within this image.

The oblong storm is actually an eddy that is swirling around the white and more stable storm below it.

More delays for SLS?

According to a report today at Ars Technica, there is an engine issue with the SLS rocket presently being prepared for a February unmanned test flight that could delay the launch for months.

The info is buried at the very bottom of the article:

There’s an issue with an SLS engine controller. This past weekend, rumors emerged about a problem with the controller for one of the four RS-25 engines that power the Space Launch System. NASA has not officially commented, but Aviation Week’s Irene Klotz spoke with Aerojet’s RS-25 program manager, Jeff Zotti. Troubleshooting the problem began on November 22, Aviation Week reported.

Schedule impacts yet to be determined … If necessary, “replacing a line or a component … we’re probably talking about multiple days. Replacing an engine, we’re probably talking about multiple weeks,” Zotti told the publication. “On top of that, we have to assess what that does and how that affects the vehicle and the integration activities that are going on,” he added. All of that must be factored into a potential delay of the launch, presently scheduled for February 12. A summer launch for the SLS now seems far more likely than spring.

Any delay beyond March poses a very serious and complex problem. The solid rocket strap-ons have a one year life expectancy once stacked, and both were initially stacked about a year ago. The February launch pushes that life span somewhat. A longer delay is more than can be waived.

SpaceX completes Starlink/BlackSky Falcon 9th launch

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight successfully launched 48 Starlink satellites and 2 BlackSky commercial Earth observation satellites using its Falcon 9 rocket.

This was the 27th successful launch by SpaceX, extending its record this year for the most launches in a year by any private company ever. The first stage made its ninth successful flight, landing successfully on the drone ship in the Atlantic. The fairings were new, but were expected to be recovered and reused.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

45 China
27 SpaceX
20 Russia
5 Europe (Arianespace)

China’s lead of the U.S. in the national rankings is now 45 to 42.

NASA awards contracts to three private space station projects

Capitalism in space: NASA today announced development contract awards to three different private space station projects.

  • Nanoracks Starlab concept won $160 million. Partners include Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin.
  • Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef project was awarded $130 million, partnering with Sierra Space, Boeing, and Redwire.
  • Northrop Grumman won $125.6 million on a concept based on upgrades to its Cygnus freighter.

All three contracts are Space Act agreements, designed by NASA to jumpstart the companies and their design efforts. All three are in addition to the effort by Axiom to build its own ISS modules that will eventually detach to form its own independent station.

That’s four private American space stations now in the works. All are aiming to launch before this decade is out.

Today’s blacklisted American: Kyle Rittenhouse temporarily forced out of ASU

How the left views someone found not guilty: GUILTY!
The contempt leftist students at ASU have for the law

It appears being found innocent of a crime no longer is sufficient for the jack-booted storm-troopers on the student left. Heavy protests at Arizona State University against Kyle Rittenhouse‘s attendance at the university as an online student has now apparently forced him out of ASU, at least temporarily.

From the first link:

Students groups like MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán), Students for Socialism, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition are organizing a rally this week to “get murderer Kyle Rittenhouse off [the] campus.” He is not on campus since he is enrolled as an online student. (Indeed, some reports indicate that he may not be currently enrolled for any classes at ASU). However, Rittenhouse has expressed interest in in-person attendance at ASU. Students and faculty are being called to the rally to “protect students from a violent, blood-thirsty murderer.”

How tolerant of them. As far as these brownshirts are concerned, Rittenhouse will always be guilty, no matter what, and should fry in hell. Or at least, he should be sent to a concentration camp where these leftists believe all their opponents should be sent. Gas chambers next if possible.

When this anti-Rittenhouse demonstration did occur on December 1st, it suddenly found itself overwhelmed by conservatives chanting “Let’s Go Brandon!” and “Self-Defense!” The videos at this link are fun to watch, as the leftists keep advocating positions of hate and bigotry (“All whites are bigots”) while the protesters stand for self-defense, freedom, and fair play. And there do appear to be as many pro-Rittenhouse protesters as anti.

Many of the conservatives crashing the leftist protest were also apparently supporters of Kari Lake, who is a former Arizona television news anchor running for governor, with Donald Trump’s endorsement.

It appears that Rittenhouse might still attend ASU, even in person. From the last link:

“Amid his most recent semester, Kyle’s professors at Arizona State University recommended a compassionate withdrawal of his online classes. Now that the trial is behind him, Kyle is eager to enroll in more classes. He is hopeful that attending Arizona State in person will soon be an option,” Hancock [Rittenhouse spokesman] said.

If he should do so, Rittenhouse should be prepared for violence against him. Arizona however is an open-carry state. He will be within his rights to walk around openly armed. I also suspect that many of the conservatives who crashed the leftist protests will be eager to stand by him in support, equally armed.

Astronauts successfully complete spacewalk, replace broken antenna

After a two day delay caused by the danger of impact from debris from the Russian anti-sat test, two astronauts today successfully completed a six-hour-plus spacewalk to replace a malfunctioning antenna on ISS.

NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron concluded the first Expedition 66 spacewalk at 12:47 p.m. EST, after 6 hours and 32 minutes. Marshburn and Barron successfully installed an S-band Antenna Subassembly (SASA) on the Port-1 truss structure and stowed the failed antenna. Additionally, the pair completed get-ahead tasks on the Port-4 truss structure, including resetting the torque on a set of bolts.

This was the fifth spacewalk for Marshburn, the first for Barron, and the 13th spacewalk at the International Space Station this year. Marshburn has now spent a total of 31 hours and one minute spacewalking, and Barron’s spacewalking time is now 6 hours and 32 minutes. Space station crew members have now spent a total of 64 days, 12 hours, and 26 minutes working outside the station conducting 245 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

It is unclear if any debris that canceled the spacewalk earlier in the week ever came close to the station. It is just as likely that NASA was overly cautious.

Ingenuity’s images from 16th flight on November 21st

Ingenuity color image from 16th flight
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, reduced and enhanced to post here, was the first color image taken by Ingenuity during its 16th flight on Mars on November 21st. The picture was taken about fifteen seconds after take-off, and I think looks west toward the rim of Jezero Crater in the distance.

The flight itself was relatively short, essentially a quick hop about 380 feet to the north to land at the edge of the rough area dubbed Seitah. The team is going to slowly take the helicopter back to its initial landing field, Wright field, over several hops. This was the first.

If you want to peruse all 113 images from the flight, go here and set the sol range from 268 (November 20) to 274 (November 26). That will show all 113 images taken during the November 21st flight.

Rocket Lab unveils its new big rocket, Neutron

Capitalism in space: In a video released today, Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck provided the major design details for the company’s new larger rocket, Neutron, planned for launch it appears sometime in the next two years.

I have embedded the video below the fold. The rocket has these innovations:

  • The landing legs do not deploy, but are permanently mounted around a relatively wide rocket base.
  • The fairings never release. They open like a clamshell to allow the upper stage and payload to exit as a unit, and then close and return with the first stage.
  • The rocket body will be made from carbon fiber, which Beck claims Rocket Lab can manufacture fast.
  • The first stage will always return to the launch site rather than land on a barge in the ocean.
  • The rocket’s engine, dubbed Archimedes, is expected to do first static tests in ’22.

It appears Beck is specifically disagreeing with some of SpaceX’s approach with this design, using carbon fiber instead of metal, and making the engine simple without pushing its power limits too hard.
» Read more

Nissan reveals prototype lunar rover

Capitalism in space: Nissan today unveiled its first prototype design of an unmanned lunar rover, built for the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Nissan Motor Co. unveiled Thursday a prototype of a lunar rover co-developed with Japan’s space exploration agency that will employ the automaker’s motor control technology to maneuver across the Moon’s loose terrain. The automaker said it aims to make the rover capable of traversing the undulating Moon surface smoothly by applying technology developed for use in its roadgoing electric vehicles such as the Leaf and Ariya.

The picture of the prototype at the link is, to put it mildly, not impressive. It uses rubber tires, and is really nothing more than a control box attached to four tires.

JAXA apparently also has Toyota working on a competitive project. The competition should therefore eventually produce something worthwhile.

Rocket Lab to attempt quickest turnaround yet on next launch

Capitalism in space: Rocket Lab announced today that its next launch of two new BlackSky Earth observation satellites is targeting December 7th, and will thus attempt quickest turnaround yet for the company between launches, 19 days.

It does not appear the company will attempt to recover the first stage of the Electron rocket on this launch. Previous announcements had said it will attempt that recovery on its first launches in ’22.

Mars Express successfully relays data from Zhurong to Earth

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter has successfully been used to relay data from China’s Zhurong Mars rover to Earth and then to China.

In November, ESA’s Mars Express and CNSA’s Zhurong teams carried out a series of experimental communication tests in which Mars Express used this ‘in the blind’ mode to listen for signals sent to it by the Zhurong Rover.

The experiments culminated in a successful test on 20 November. “Mars Express successfully received the signals sent by the rover, and our colleagues in the Zhurong team confirmed that all the data arrived on Earth in very good quality.” says ESA’s Gerhard Billig.

Apparently, normal communications would first involve “handshake” communications between the two, but that requires communications frequencies Zhurong does not use. Mars Express instead had to grab the data on the blind. The test was a success, which means the ESA will likely act as another communications relay for Zhurong, in addition to China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter, as the rover’s mission on Mars continues.

Russia threatens to destroy U.S. GPS satellites

During a telecast on Russia TV, the television host claimed that Russia could destroy the entire American GPS satellite constellation, using its anti-satellite missile technology, should the U.S. or NATO “cross our red line.”

The Kremlin warned it could blow up 32 GPS satellites with its new anti-satellite technology, ASAT, which it tested Nov. 15 on a retired Soviet Tselina-D satellite, according to numerous news reports.

Russia then claimed on state television that its new ASAT missiles could obliterate NATO satellites and “blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces,” said Russian Channel One TV host Dmitry Kiselyov, rendering the West’s GPS-guided missiles useless. “It means that if NATO crosses our red line, it risks losing all 32 of its GPS satellites at once.”

The article claims “numerous news reports”, but it appears they all boil down to Kiselyov’s pronouncements on this one broadcast.

No matter. The Putin government is testing the waters, and showing that it is ready and willing to escalate tensions. It apparently thinks the Biden administration is too weak to respond. And who can disagree?

Sculptured lava south of Olympus Mons?

Sculptured lava?
Click for full image.

Time for a cool image! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken on September 8, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a region of strangely sculptured terrain located several hundred miles south of Olympus Mons.

It appears the prevailing winds are to the west. The question is whether the wind is shaping a hard lava surface, over eons, or is shaping instead layers of dust or volcanic ash quickly and seasonally. At this location either is possible. In fact, we might even be seeing evidence of both at the same time.

The overview map below shows that the location is just outside the Medusae Fossae Formation, the largest volcanic ash deposit on Mars.
» Read more

Data: Vaccines don’t stop COVID, but COVID is not that dangerous

UK COVID numbers in late October 2021

The graph to the right was created from the data produced by the United Kingdom Health Agency covering the period from October 25, 2021 to November 21, 2021. It shows the percentages of the vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who became infected with COVID, were hospitalized by it, and even died from it.

As you can clearly see, it apparently makes no difference anymore whether you received no shots, one shot, two shots, or three shots. Your chances of getting infected with COVID is just as likely if you are vaccinated than if you are not. The shots don’t protect you.

The graph is part of a long article detailing how in the UK, COVID appears to no longer be a virus of the unvacccinated, but in fact is now a virus of the vaccinated. Apparently, you stand a higher chance of getting sick from COVID if you have been vaccinated than if you have not.

The story however distorts the truth badly, since it exaggerates the danger. This graph was produced based on these numbers:

The report reveals that there were 833,332 recorded Covid-19 cases, 9,094 Covid-19 hospitalisations and 3,700 Covid-19 deaths from October 25th to November 21st.

When we run the actual number of deaths against the number of people infected with COVID, whether vaccinated or not, we find that 99.5% easily survive the illness. This confirms previous numbers I have cited covering the entire United States. COVID, like the flu, is relatively harmless to almost the entire population. Only the elderly, the sick, and the chronically ill are threatened seriously by it.

So, what take-away should we take from this information?

1. All vaccine mandates are irrational. They do nothing to reduce the risk of COVID. To impose such rules based on this data suggests that the Biden administration is completely divorced from reality in its policy making.

2. The virus itself is not a serious threat and never was. 99.5% of everyone survives it. Since we now know that the lockdowns, the mask mandates, the vaccines, the installation of plexiglass everywhere, and the social distancing rules did nothing to limit its spread, we should stop all these crazy irrational policies now. Return to normal life, and let the virus finally spread through the population in a way that will allow natural immunity to build up. Only then can we finally choke this thing off for good.

I think the public is finally ready. I think that most everyone is sick and tired of stupid rules and irrational policies and will resist strongly any attempts at new rules. You might see them imposed in fascists states like California and New York, but in general the country, even the world, is ready to tell power-hungry politicians to go jump in a lake.

Musk shakes up Raptor engine development

Capitalism in space: Based on all the reports I’ve read, Elon Musk this past weekend did a major shake-up of the management that was running the Raptor engine development, apparently focused on the need to be able to mass produce these engines at a very high rate to allow numerous test flights in the coming year.

More here, including this company email from Musk:

Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it had seemed a few weeks ago. As we have dug into the issues following the exiting of prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported. There is no way to sugarcoat this.

I was going to take this weekend off, as my first weekend off in a long time, but instead, I will be on the Raptor line all night and through the weekend.

The management shakeup was as follows:

This ‘senior management’ that left is likely referring to Will Heltsley, former SpaceX senior vice president of propulsion. As CNBC reported, he left Raptor production due to a lack of progress. In addition, former SpaceX vice president of mission and launch operation Lee Rosen and senior director of mission and launch operations Rick Lim have left the company. Raptor engine production is now being led by Jacob Mackenzie, who has been with the company for over six years.

The reports imply that the engine itself is in trouble, but I do not think that is the issue. Instead, as Musk has said many times, more important than developing new technology is developing the efficient manufacturing processes that will allow the company to take advantage of that technology. It appears the manufacturing part of Raptor had not been covered well by the now disposed management.

SpaceX not only needs a working reliable Raptor engine, it needs to be able to mass produce them in the hundreds, quickly. This is the challenge that apparently the previous management failed to face. Musk is now refocusing Raptor development around this need.

NASA postpones ISS spacewalk due to debris from Russian anti-sat test

NASA today postponed a planned ISS spacewalk to fix an antenna because of a threat from debris from the Russian anti-sat test.

On Tuesday, about five hours before the astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were due to venture outside the space station, Nasa said on Twitter that the spacewalk to fix a failed antenna had been cancelled. “NASA received a debris notification for the space station. Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the 30 November spacewalk until more information is available,” it tweeted.

This problem is only going to get worse. The Russians did something with that anti-satellite test that was either so stupid as to defy logic, or intentional in the worst sort of way. Russia’s actions actually suggest the Putin administration wanted to sabotage ISS.

Engineers recover a third Hubble instrument

Engineers have now reactivated a third instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope, bringing the telescope very close to full operations again with only one instrument, a spectrograph, still in safe mode.

The Hubble Space Telescope team recovered the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph instrument on Sunday, Nov. 28, moving the telescope further toward full science operations. Three of Hubble’s four active instruments are now collecting science data once again.

The team also continued work on developing and testing changes to instrument software that would allow them to conduct science operations even if they encounter several lost synchronization messages in the future. Those changes would first be installed on the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph once they’re completed and tested within a few weeks. Hubble’s other instruments would also receive similar changes. The team has not detected further synchronization message issues since monitoring began Nov. 1.

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